Who wants to be a millionaire?
A one million dollar prize is being offered to anyone who can show scientifically how life began. If that strikes you as odd, it’s because we are so used to scientists claiming wrongly that evolution explains everything about nature. This prize money is proof positive that no one has yet been able to explain the origin of life.
If you cast your mind back to your biology lessons, you might remember being taught that life arose spontaneously in a ‘chemical soup’. It all sounded so convincing when you were 11 years old, didn’t it? But the truth is that this has never been proved – it was and remains just a theory.
The Origin-of-Life Foundation (OLF), an international science-and-education organisation, is offering the million dollar prize through the Gene Emergence Project (GEP), which aims to discover the origin of the genetic instructions in DNA.
However, biologist Prof. Jack Trevors, a member of GEP, emphasizes the size of the task: ‘Genetic instructions don’t write themselves any more than a software program writes itself’.1 Microsoft founder Bill Gates has described DNA as far more complex than anything his software designers could ever come up with.
At least Trevors and Gates are honest enough to admit the problem. Atheists like Prof. Richard Dawkins claim that there is no need to invoke a Designer to explain how a complex code got written into our DNA. But their alternative ideas simply aren’t credible. Hence the need for this prize.
But I suspect that no one is going to become a millionaire. The money is only going to be awarded to someone who can prove that life arose without a Creator. The OLF website2 states: ‘The Origin-of-Life Prize ® will be awarded for proposing a highly plausible mechanism for the spontaneous rise of genetic instructions in nature sufficient to give rise to life … by natural processes’.
The website goes on to list many reasons why the creation of life from non-living chemicals (abiogenesis) seems to be impossible, and makes it clear that evolutionary processes can’t help.
Evolution, if you believe in it at all, can only work once life, and the ability to reproduce life, have already been established. That’s why Darwin called his book On the origin of species – not ‘On the origin of life’.
Clutching at straws
The OLF is publicly admitting what creationists and Intelligent Design theorists have been saying for decades – that despite the evolutionary origin of life being taught as fact, there is no credible explanation of how it happened.
Clutching at straws, some scientists have accepted the idea of ‘panspermia’ – the theory that life was seeded on this planet from outer space, possibly by a meteorite. But that doesn’t solve the problem of how life began – it just pushes it out into space.
Not only that: the likelihood of life surviving the ravages of space travel on a lump of rock is even less probable than it arising on a planet that is uniquely suited to support life.
No information without intelligence
But it is in the instructions for life itself that we get the biggest clue to life’s origin. DNA is an amazing store of information – and you don’t get information without intelligence. Dr Werner Gitt, a creationist and information specialist, wrote: ‘There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter’.3
Leading science writer and evolutionist Professor Paul Davies agrees: ‘Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organised themselves into the first living cell … How did stupid atoms spontaneously write their own software?’4
Astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle once calculated the chances of life originating by itself. He concluded5 that the probability that natural processes could form a hypothetical minimum self-reproducing cell (consisting of only 400 enzymes and proteins – a real world bacterium has about 2,000) was 1 in 1040,000. This means ten multiplied by itself forty thousand times.
Statistically, this adds up to zero chance of succeeding. To give you an idea of how big a number 1040,000 is, there are only about 1080 atomic particles in the entire universe! It was this kind of problem that led Hoyle to come up with the idea of panspermia.
And by the way, there won’t be any point in Richard Dawkins applying for the prize. The OLF must have seen the fallacy of his computer modelling theories. Their website states that for any proposed mechanism to win it must have an ’empirical [experimental] correlation to the real world of biochemistry and molecular biology – not just mathematical or computer models’.
That rules out Dawkins’ computer programs, like those in his book The blind Watchmaker, which he hailed as evidence that evolution is possible. Why? Because, as he himself admits, he has to use artificial selection to guide the process, not natural selection.
His computerised simulation of evolution generates artificial creatures called biomorphs, but ‘his creatures are tightly constrained by his biomorph software and completely dependent on the computer’s operating software. Deleterious mutations are not possible [yet in the real world, the vast majority of mutations are deleterious]… He achieves the ‘evolution’ by adjusting only a few variables within narrow ranges. So the only changes that occur in the creatures are those whose potential is already available in the program originally’.6
Put simply, all Dawkins does is replace the Designer of life with himself as computer program designer.
Scientific research of the last few decades has resulted in more and more scientists admitting that life bears all the hallmarks of design. And it is this same evidence that recently led atheist philosopher Prof. Anthony Flew to accept the need for a Designer to account for life and living systems.
Perhaps those who claim science as their reason for doubting God should take a closer look at science.
1. Vowles, A., The tree of life, in The Portico, Summer 2007, pp. 20-23. Published by Communications and Public Affairs (U of G) Guelph, Canada, N1G 2W1.
3. Gitt, W., In the beginning was information, CLV, Bielefeld, Germany (1997) pp. 64-67, 79, 107.
4. Davies, P., New Scientist (12 July 2003) and ‘Life force’, New Scientist (18 September 1999).
5. Quoted at www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/4202
6. Klyce, Brig, Computer models of Evolution, www.panspermia.org/computrs.htm
The author is a freelance editor, writer and publishing consultant. He is also editor of Good News – a national monthly evangelistic newspaper (firstname.lastname@example.org).
© Andrew Halloway, September 2007